When Daraprim—a medication used to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be extremely dangerous for patients with compromised immune systems—was purchased by the New York-based Turing Pharmaceuticals, the result was shocking. The drug that had formerly cost $13.50 was suddenly $750 per pill. The average yearly cost of treatment for a patient skyrocketed to over $630,000.
The incredible backlash against this increase resulted in a promise from Turing’s CEO, Martin Shkreli, that the price of Daraprim would be brought back down. When the controversy erupted, it did something unexpected: it drew attention to the sometimes outrageous prices of medication necessary for the well-being of individuals with AIDS.
Discussion is the First Step
Daraprim has been in usage for over sixty years, and in that time the price has never gone above $15. But many other medications, some of which are used by HIV-positive individuals to maintain their health, have not remained so affordable. The price of prescription medication has been perceived as a problem for some time, but the public had no example of clear-cut price gouging to illustrate it.
With Turing’s announcement of Daraprim’s price increase, that example was suddenly available for everyone to see. Not only did the discussion about affordable medication become public, but the plight of people who need the medication to live healthy lives—such as those with AIDS or cancer—was brought to center stage.
Whether the price of Daraprim will drop back to its previous cost or something more reasonable than the price that Turing set is yet to be seen, but the controversy has helped illustrate the struggles of people who rely on medication for healthy lives.